James Beard Foundation reevaluating policies in wake of sexual harassment allegations against four former honorees

The James Beard Foundation said Thursday that it would be “evaluating” its policies after at least four of its James Beard Award honorees ─ including Mario Batali and John Besh ─ were accused of sexual misconduct and harassment.

In a statement posted to the JBF website, the foundation condemned “any behavior contrary to the values of good leadership” and said it would be taking measures to protect the integrity of the organization.


“The James Beard Foundation and our independent, volunteer James Beard Awards Committees recognize the seriousness of the sexual harassment and misconduct revelations surrounding some previous JBF Award winners, currently unfolding in the press and on social media.

"We do not condone any behavior contrary to the values of good leadership that our awards represent or that in any way thwarts the opportunity for everyone in our industry to thrive,” reads the statement.

“With our awards and other programs, we remain committed to cultivating, celebrating, and honoring chefs and others in our industry who demonstrate both gastronomic greatness and good leadership. As we continue to monitor the news, the Foundation and its Awards Committees are evaluating our policies to both ensure the integrity of our programs, and be certain they remain a beacon of excellence and source of inspiration in our industry.”


The JBF’s statement comes after multiple former restaurant employees came forward with sexual harassment allegations against John Besh, Johnny Iuzzini, Mario Batali and Spotted Pig owner Ken Friedman.

Besh, a two-time James Beard Award-winner and 2014 inductee into the James Beard “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage,” had stepped down from his Besh Restaurant Group following accusations of inappropriate behavior by 25 former employees.

Allegations against Iuzzini, a TV personality and James Beard Award-winning pastry chef in 2006, were first published on Mic in late November. On Dec. 11, Eater NY published its exposé of Batali, a five-time winner and 2001 inductee into the “Who’s Who.”

And Friedman, who was honored with a James Beard Outstanding Restaurateur award in 2016, was accused of several former employees of sexual misconduct in a New York Times article published on Dec. 12.


The James Beard Foundation has not confirmed whether they plan to rescind any awards, but a spokesman for the JBF told Fox News that the foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Award committee will be reviewing the policy “situation” over the coming weeks.

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